It seems like almost every gadget announced or introduced these days comes with the assurance that it ‘does’ HD video. Even if it has a tiny little lower-than-standard-definition screen and isn’t likely to be used by anyone to watch movies in high quality. I get the feeling that hardware manufacturers think they need a 1080p sticker on the box to sell gadgets, even if it means cheating a little. I say cheating because with many of these devices, HD video is the only thing they’re really good at.
Because 1080p video is a standard that’ll probably be around for years to come, many video chip makers offer products that handle decoding or HD video independently from the device’s main processor. In fact, that processor can be really crappy and barely able to do anything else. The resulting gadget will still play high definition video smoothly.
I’m not saying all of these gadgets are crap, I’m just saying you shouldn’t expect them to be fast at other things. You need a decent Core2 Duo PC to play full HD video if you’re not cheating. Decoding audio and video at several gigabits per second is hard work. A machine that powerful will also let you play games, process tons of data or even run Microsoft Word. It’s a powerful computer. Your new Tegra-packing cell phone probably won’t be able to do those things, even if it has a 1080p logo on it somewhere. Nor will an Ion based netbook run Photoshop very well.
My advice? Look for this 1080p on the box of any gadget that you’ll be using to watch video on/with/over. It makes sense for flatscreen televisions, blu-ray players and such. For all other things I recommend trying the device to see how snappy it is and whether it does what you want. Don’t be fooled into thinking it has to be fast because it does HD.